A horse advocacy group has condemned the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board’s proposal to sterilize some wild mares.
Protect Mustangs says the procedure carries health risks for the animals, including the possibility of death.
It said it had yet to see an accurate independent headcount to prove alleged overpopulation is an issue, despite multiple requests for such evidence.
The organisation also called for a Congressional investigation into what it alleges is a conflict of interest on the board which is catering to livestock and extractive industries.
“This cruel plan could kill many federally protected wild horses,” says Anne Novak, executive director for Protect Mustangs.
“We oppose spaying wild mares in the field because it’s a high-risk procedure. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is charged with protecting wild horses, not putting their lives in jeopardy. ”
The group said it wanted an independent audit to determine the number of mustangs in the wild and in holding facilities.
“Show us an independent headcount and then let’s talk about overpopulation – if it’s a realistic concern,” says Novak.
“Right now we see the BLM inflating the population numbers to justify rampant million-dollar roundups, money dumped into fertility research and funds spent to warehouse 50,000 captive wild horses. Today, maybe 17,000 are left in all 10 western states. This could be the end for America’s indigenous free roaming wild horse.
“We are concerned the anti-mustang advisory board is spreading disinformation about reproduction rates,” she says.
“Life is harsh on the range. Wild horses don’t reproduce like rabbits and many foals die before they are two. Saying the herds double every five years is an invented distortion to push through radical policy endangering mustangs.”
The group said sterilizing mares under such circumstances had at least a 10 per cent death rate and a pandora’s box full of complications.
A federally employed veterinarian, Dr Al Kane, was reported as saying to the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board in a 2011 report: “It’s a lot more complicated and the potential for complications and side effects is much greater. The potential effects on herd behavior or individual mare behavior are an issue.”
Protect Mustangs urged the public to contact elected officials in Congress to seek an inquiry into alleged conflicts of interest on the board and an independent audit of wild horse numbers.
“The public loves American wild horses,” says Kerry Becklund, director of outreach for Protect Mustangs.
“We want the BLM and their biased Advisory Board to back off and quit trying to wipe them out.”